We offer a free book-building, peer learning workshop that inspires and empowers young people in the United States, and in other countries to share their lives and communities through the publishing of their own stories.
On Wednesday February, 8th �I was delivered to Escula Peters Public School in Sarchi. �Rosemary, Raquel and Ismael,
an artist family who hosted me back in October 2011 hosted me again in
their home town of Gercia, the town next to Sarchi. They delivered me to
Jenny, Escula Peters English teacher who took me in
for three days with her two beautiful children. I was welcomed into a
very warm and loving family and school. Zaira Rodriguez,
the schools principle welcomed me very warmly with all the teachers.
Jenny was the only interpreter for me at the school but my very broken Spanglish and sometimes checking with Google Translate, got me through it.
Please visit the Sistema Educativo Escula San Isidro Labrador page!
My third, one day, two hour workshop in Costa Rica had to be organized, powerful and fast! The previous afternoon workshops with GMCR better prepared me. I had fine tuned more efficient teaching techniques. I did have one adult assistance from the school, Monika Rojas (English teacher) but mostly children assistants. I decided to focus only on the painting exercise but to leave enough room at the end for a quick demonstration on how to use our artwork to cover recycled containers, the children had collected. The students were so cooperative and I felt my Spanglish was improving at this point.
During my three-week stay I visited a very successful food security project in the Monte Alto Mountains outside of Nicoya. I felt this was a very important project for me to see and share with others. We began our trip with visiting the feed store to pick up the Tilapia pellets for the artificial ponds we were to visit. As we drove up into the mountains and farming communities the views were amazing, the best I had seen thus far in Coast Rica! Along the way I was shown an earth oven which was successfully being used to bake bread. Howler monkeys with their babies were curious about our presence or annoyed. The journey was rough and long and barely a road. I enjoyed a native dish for lunch and wonderful company with a family we visited. I was so impressed with how well each family was living off the land, so remote and isolated. It was some adventure I will never forget!
(Some photos represented in slide show are courtesy of Adolfo Salinas Acosta)
The food security project is of great interest to me because without proper nutrition children do not develop as well. Basic academics without the arts also is not good for a developing child if not balanced with; art, music, sports and definitely proper nutrition. So, I saw an important connection for Kids Share Workshops and Partners of the Americas to possibly expand in the area of environmental exploration with an exciting Food Security project focused on building artificial ponds in drought prone areas of Costa Rica.
Continue to read this story and see the slide show please visit this link: Food Security Project (Artificial Ponds)
(Please see slide show below!) Arriving at the Community Center in Naranjo: Later in the afternoon after visiting coffee farms, we arrived at the community center in Naranjo where the Kids Share program got started. Some of the GMCR employees decided to join Winston horse back riding through the coffee farm while others stayed to volunteer with children from the communities of Naranjo and San Ramon.
What we did in two hours: 1. Played a fun game of Futbol/Soccer to help us all get to know each other. 2. A quick presentation was given to help everyone visualize what KSW (Kids Share Workshops) is about. 3. Setting up and learning how to be careful with our friends while painting. 4. Painting and hanging artwork 5. Learning how to decorate recycled containers 6. Awards & Snack
Each school KSW reached some art supplies were left thanks to the generous donations made by many of the GMCR employees and Winston Rost, who wanted to leave something behind. At this community center the computers the employees brought from Vermont were also donated and very appreciated. To give back to children, especially those who receive little enrichment learning in rural and developing countries, this was a very rewarding experience for all of us. GMCR employees made a big difference in these kids lives and they will never forget you!
On the last morning with GMCR I said goodbye to the employees and thanked them for their very hard work and generous support with the kids. I wanted to do something fun as my thank you, so I gave two of my artist prints away in a name raffle. I wish I could do more for my appreciation of their help. Volunteering with children is so rewarding for me, especially when others want to pitch in during their vacation or free time.
I also am grateful they were so patient with me since my Spanish is a work in progress (started learning at 40!) and I have taught very few 2 hour programs. It was a bit of a challenge for me to figure out how to give an enrichment program I had created in two hours which was designed for two-five weeks, but I felt with the support of others the kids were left happy and got a sense of how we can all work together cross culturally through art and exploring.
A Special Thanks to the GMCR employee photographers; Reid Greenberg, Steven Caggiano and Michael Yaeger and Lorena Frias from Sister Schools. Their photographs are making it possible for the 2012 Costa Rica blog to cross culturally share!
Stay Tuned! I will be taking you for the next two weeks to the Sister Schools with Partners of the Americas!
The photo slide show below is a wonderful and quick step by step visual in cross cultural sharing during our time at the Community Center in Naranjo. Please take a moment and enjoy the day with us!
“Our 2012 Arts, Recycling and Cross Cultural Sharing through Skype workshops in Costa Rica, with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR) Employees and Partners of the Americas-Sister Schools was a huge success! I was a bit nervous to take on five school locations in three weeks, but the warmth and support of Costa Rican’s opening their homes, hearts and time volunteering with me made it an absolutely wonderful experience! The GMCR employee team who volunteered 2-3 hours with kids for two days was amazing! Employees brought extra art supplies and donated GMCR lap top computers and I brought over 60 Highlight, Lady Bug and National Geographic Magazines. In the rural coffee communities often books and computers are scarce. From the youth to the adults everyone had a wonderful time and I sometimes wondered if the adults were having the most fun!
To continue to read this story please visit:(2012) Workshops, Living, Coffee, Dishes & Food Security
To read about our first workshop in 2012 visit: La Hilda Estates.
via La Hilda Estates.
Please scroll down to see more images and to learn about OxCarts!
A note from Kristina:
“I am so excited to be sharing this next blog posting with you!
Back in November 2008 I began the very first Kids Share Workshops (known then as Portraits for Charity) in Windy Kelley’s classroom with a wonderful group of kids and one very special child, Ash Brittenham, who was turned into a super hero! The children learned how to create tissue art, similar to the Eric Carle technique. They created their own group illustrations and had their work placed in two paintings of Ash. Their wonderful cultural connection was with the Tibetan Children’s Village in Bylakuppe, India. (See images in slideshow below)
The excitement I felt last week was super to be able to return to Windy’s classroom, meet her new wonderful group of 5th graders and make the very very first Sister School (Partners of the Americas) Costa Rica and Vermont connection! On January 17th Windy’s students were able to ask Lorena Frias, president of Sister Schools (Partners of the Americas) in Costa Rica and coordinator with Kids Share Workshops some interesting questions via skype. We even got to met her 15 year old nephew Gabrielle and ask him some questions! It was very successful and exciting for us to see Lorena in her home in Costa Rica!
After some discussion and thought Windy agreed to sign up her classroom to be the very first sister school partner with Costa Rica in Vermont! Lorena facilitated Windy and I to help make that connection.
Our first sister school will be with Escuela Peters in the rural, beautiful artist community of Sarchi, Costa Rica! I enjoyed meeting many of the students last October and I am very excited to return and teach the KSW program! The community of Sarchi is famously known of its beautiful Oxcart designs which can be seen on bridges, large decorative wheels, Oxcarts and store fronts! You can see a sample of this and read about Oxcarts below.
I will be leaving for Costa Rica January 27 to teach for two weeks. Our exchange will be February 8-10, a three day program at Escuela Peters. We will be connecting with Windy’s classroom at 11:00 am in Vermont and 10am in Costa Rica’s time. I have designed a simple exchange for each 30 minute skype classroom meeting. Day 1: introductions, Day 2: Share something from home and finally Day 3: make our Pen Pal exchanges for the remainder of the school year. Windy will be receiving updates from Sister Schools and her new connection with Escuela Peters throughout the year. Kids Share Workshops will help facilitate the on-going connection we hope to keep each year.
Wish us luck as we make our first cross cultural connections with Costa Rica and Vermont Kids!
As always, thank you for your support and I will see you in Costa Rica!”
-Kristina Applegate, Program Director and Founder of Kids Share Workshops
*A special thanks to Green Mountain Coffee Roaster’s Farmer Relations Manager, Winston Rost! Without the funding and support from GMCR this exchange with Vermont and Costa Rica would not have been possible. Kristina will be teaching in 3-4 Sister School Communities and 2 GMCR coffee communities January/February 2012. Art supplies and more are being donated by GMCR and Kristina’s travel expenses.
THE OXCARTS OF SARCHÍ Sarchí is famous as the home of gaily decorated wooden carretas(oxcarts), the internationally recognized symbol of Costa Rica. The carts, which once dominated the rural landscape of the central highlands, date back only to the end of the 19th century. Sadly, they are rarely seen in use today, though they are a common decorative item.
At the height of the coffee boom and before the construction of the Atlantic Railroad, oxcarts were used to transport coffee beans to Puntarenas, on the Pacific coast–a journey requiring 10-15 days. In the rainy season, the oxcart trail became a quagmire. Costa Ricans thus forged their own spokeless wheel–a hybrid between the Aztec disc and the Spanish spoked wheel–to cut through the mud without becoming bogged down. In their heyday, some 10,000 cumbersome, squeaking carretas had a dynamic impact on the local economy, spawning highway guards, smithies, inns, teamsters, and crews to maintain the roads.
Today’s carretas bear little resemblance to the original rough-hewn, rectangular, cane-framed vehicles covered by rawhide tarps. Even then, though, the compact wheels–about four or five feet in diameter–were natural canvases awaiting an artist. Enter the wife of Fructuoso Barrantes, a cart maker in San Ramó n with a paintbrush and a novel idea. She enlivened her husband’s cart wheels with a geometric starburst design in bright colors set off by black and white. Soon every farmer in the district had given his aged carreta a lively new image.
By 1915, flowers had bloomed beside the pointed stars. Faces and even miniature landscapes soon appeared. And annual contests (still held today) were arranged to reward the most creative artists. The carretas in fact, had ceased to be purely functional and had become every farmer’s pride and joy. Each cart was also designed to make its own “song,” a chime as unique as a fingerprint, produced by a metal ring striking the hubnut of the wheel as the cart bumped along. Supposedly, the intention was to allow the farm owner to hear his laborers. Once the oxcart had become a source of individual pride, greater care was taken in their construction, and the best-quality woods were selected to make the best sounds.
Today, the carretas forced from the fields by the advent of tractors and trucks, are almost purely decorative, but the craft and the art form live on in SarchÍ, where artisans still apply their masterly touch at two fábricas de carretas (workshops), which are open to view. A finely made reproduction oxcart can cost up to $5,000.
The Ox-cart Museum, in Salitral de Desamparados, on the southern outskirts of San José, has displays of campesino life, including a collection of hand-painted oxcarts, in a typical old adobe house. Also, the Pueblo Antigua, outside San José, has a living museum featuring the carts.
Two years ago I fell in love with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters! The company believes strongly in Social Responsibility and not only proudly announces this to the world but takes action. I took time to learn about the many non-profits GMCR supports and became inspired!
But finding my way to this wonderful coffee company, so close to my own home would take time to make the connection with GMCR. In January 2010 I had just boldly and bravely taught a Kids Share program with volunteers in a very rural coffee community. We found ourselves traveling to San Ramon, El Roblar, Nicaragua living on a primitive and very rural family coffee farm for three weeks. This would not only be a life changing experience for me but the inspiration to see the importance of Coffee, Kids and Cross Cultural Sharing.
GMCR supports many great causes from women’s health to food security. In a quick and simple program I wanted to focus on the kids and how to reach them by making fun connections with children and adults living in the Americas. How could I help bridge cultures through coffee? With the help of Partners of the Amiercas, my parent organization, the focus is making this happen through the Arts, Writing and Environmental Exploration by using technology.
This January I have been invited to teach a fun two day program with Winston Rost, Farmer Relations Manager for GMCR and Source Employees in Costa Rica. We will be visiting in the communities of Doka, La Hilda, BES, Las Lajas an organic “honey process” coffee farm and Cafe Altura de San Ramon.
I am super excited to be on this upcoming adventure with the GMCR source employees who are being awarded this trip as outstanding employees! Please see the pdf presentation of Kids Share two hour program to learn more. KSW-GMCR 5MIN Presentation (webinar)
Kristina Applegate Lutes, Founder & Program Director
Arnoldo Juan Lizano, Coffee Trader with The Coffee Source (LIST)
Friday, Oct. 7th
Day 8: The Coffee Source Meeting with Kids Share Workshops
After a refreshing hike Friday morning, Lorena, Sister Schools president, and I traveled to San Jose to meet with Arnoldo Leiva, manager of The Coffee Source. The reason for this meeting was to discuss how Kids Share Workshops (KSW) could facilitate a week long visit with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR) Source Employees in Costa Rica with Arnoldo’s coffee community members. Arnoldo was introduced to me through Winston Rost, GMCR Farmer Relations Manager in Waterbury, Vermont.
Our meeting went very well as I tried to navigate the jigsaw puzzle I was visualizing with The Coffee Source connection, GMCR, KSW and Partners of the Americas (Sister Schools). Arnoldo explained to me that he was to bring 13 of his community members to Waterbury, Vermont, November 17. He asked if I would join them at GMCR, share my program and discuss how it could fit into their time with the employees. Arnoldo seemed to like the idea of Kids Share Workshops helping to bring community children together with the adults, through cross cultural sharing, during a short visit. Additionally, Lorena explained that Sister Schools & Partners of the Americas volunteers could assist in facilitating this cross cultural connection.
Lorena and Arnoldo made a connection with Escuela Santa Cecilia located in San Pedro de Poás, the province of Alajuela. We also recently discovered another GMCR source, Escuela El Socorro, Piedades Sur de San Ramón, which is called a unidocente because there is only one teacher with 12 students. Lorena will try to organize other unidocente schools to join us, allowing up to 40 students to participate in the program with GMCR employees.
I explained to Arnoldo what I was visualizing with GMCR for the week. I understood that we are to visit a handful of communities. Some if not all I would give a 1-2 hour program with the employees and youth. A recent example of this was in Oregon at the Bienestar Community School. Adults and children enjoyed a 1.5 hour program painting and decorating recycled containers from their newly created tissue art. The activity was so much fun, and it can be used on many different objects to create beautiful pieces of work. It also brought us all together and created a special friendship. Later I was to receive beautiful thank you cards from all the children!
In addition to creating art I hope to organize in a couple of community’s environmental exploration, where the children take the adults on an adventure, approved by me but a surprise to the adults. That activity would have to be carefully considered depending on the adults endurance. One such surprise was recently in Guatemala when I announced to the children that we will play on a zip line and draw the rainforest in our newly made journals from recycled material.
Bringing adults and children together through playful, fun activities like these are thrilling for me! Wish us luck as we work with this idea for the first time in Costa Rica! I am excited to bring smiles and fun to not only the children’s faces but the adults who may have never been to this beautiful country!
About Arnoldo Leiva, quoted from National Coffee Association’s Website
“As General Manager of The Coffee Source, Inc., in San José, Costa Rica, Arnoldo Leiva is not only responsible for all aspects of sourcing green coffees from Latin American countries and exporting them to Europe, the United States and Asia, he also manages the import and sales division for the U.S. market. Mr. Leiva is also active with several coffee associations both in Costa Rica and the United States and is currently President of the Specialty Coffee Association of Costa Rica and Sintercafe and sits on the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s International Relations Council representing Costa Rica. Mr. Leiva received a B.S. in Industrial Engineering from the Universidad Autónoma de C.A. in San José and an MBA from the National University of San Diego.”
A special note from Kristina, Program Director:
“I am obviously home from my site investigation, adventure in Costa Rica. Each week I am sharing each day’s exciting development as to not overwhelm you with the entire three week journey! What we have coordinated thus far with Sister Schools (Partners of the Americas is: three schools in Costa Rica connecting with two schools in Oregon and hopefully one school in Vermont for the 2012 KSW program. As I am writing this blog I am sitting in the back seat of my car in front of the public library in Montpelier, VT before meeting a friend for dinner. My followers and volunteers mean a lot to me!”-Kristina, Dedicated Program Director
Wednesday & Thursday-October, 5 & 6
Lorena wanted me to see an upscale school in Heredia to have a clearer panorama of elementary education in Costa Rica. I was greeted by Caroline Magnus, Early Childhood Coordinator. Caroline gave me a quick tour of the school. Many of the students at Pan-America School come from upper class families. The facility was very friendly. The students are so used to teachers from the U.S. they did not notice me while I passed through the hallways. Children here receive one of the best educations Costa Rica has to offer.
Day 7: Sistema Educativo San Isidor Labrador, Heredia
Upon entering this school we were greeted by a friendly faculty and quiet school. The children were in the classrooms. The administrator Cecilia Solis kindly gave us a tour of the school. Our first stop was a beautiful mural painting that was created by a famous Costa Rican Artist. It’s vibrant colors and depiction of well known birds was very inviting for any age. As we began to walk through the small, well laid out school I began to see more beautiful mural art by students and visiting artists.
The classrooms were on two floors with a very nice garden out front. The landscaping of this small area was warm and inviting with a sitting patio under a large tree. We noticed hidden, small vegetable gardens which were beginning to sprout.
When I was introduced to the students in every classroom, they were very friendly and well behaved! Lorena and I commented on this school having very well disciplined children.
Finally, I gave a presentation to the faculty. They enjoyed learning about KSW and showed a lot of interest in the enrichment program. I am working to coordinate this school with Sister Schools (Partners of the Americas) to cross culturally share with a sister school in Oregon for next winter. The art and English teacher will be able to assist me. They requested this program be taught during the school hours. Wish us luck!
Ps. You can see Don Ruff, the Chapter President in Oregon visiting this school after I had left. I was fortunate enough to have an afternoon with Don before leaving the next day to Vermont. Thank you Don for doing a wonderful job with connections!